A selection of South African wines tasted over dinner with friends
Market Restaurant, Manchester
15th August 2008

2001 Bukettraube, Cederberg
, 13%
Deepish colour - faintly alamingly so: previous bottles have been much paler, though this has been in the cellar for about five years now. £6 in 2003. Current vintage is the 2007, which is £8 from Woffenden Wines of Bolton.
A smoky, spicy nose is followed up by a full palate. Nicely rounded, but there is just a touch of acidity to freshen up the slight sweetness. A nice oriental spice flavour: Steve mentions ginger, which points me in the direction I was trying to find: there are some rather nice, fragrant galangal flavours. Maybe I should have left this for the next Nottingham offline, with its wines for pan-Asian food theme? Hmmm ... maybe I have another bottle. Still, I'd happily drink this. Very Good. 87/100

2007 de Trafford Chenin Blanc, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5%
A powerful, extracted, concentrated nose with nuts and a bit of oak. Very big palate. Very hot. But really rather flat and dull on the palate once you get beyond the alcoholic burn. Don't like it, and there's not much I can appreciate in it. 80/100

1987 Nietvoorbij Weisser Riesling Experimental Wine, no abv shown
Screwcap. Very high fill - ridiculously high fill, almost to the brim - see where the pen is pointing!
Well, a 20-year old South African Riesling under screwcap. Not the most promising of prospects. But in the end, quite possibly my WOTN.
It's a mid golden colour. The nose feels old. Quite raisined and sweetened-with-must feeling. Well, this isn't unpleasant. There's quite high acidity and a slight raisiny feel. But it also has an interesting roundness. Coming back to it through the evening, I found this going from merely very interesting to really rather enjoyable. For an experiment, it's worked rather well. The combination of this and the green pepper sauce with the steak was a revelation: a completely off-the-wall pairing that was much more than the sum of its parts. 89/100


2005 Palladius, The Sadie Family, 14.5%
Mid gold. A decent nose, though nothing special: feels a bit like a fairly basic white Rhone. Really nice in the mouth. This has good depth and is a very well made wine. Very enjoyable now, but it could do with more time, I think. 90/100

2003 Meerlust Chardonnay, Stellenbosch, 13.5%
A nice rich, oaky, buttery chardonnay nose. Lovely palate: rich, but not overblown. In fact, I find it very finely balanced. Really nice poised finish. This is a top notch chardonnay. Yum. 92/100

1999 Pinot Noir, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, WO Walker Bay, 13.5%
A warm, slightly scented, slightly floral red fruits nose. Nice, open palate. Fairly attractive; quite floral and scented. There's a bit of a bitter edge, which for me gives the impression of the burn you'd normally associate with excessive alcohol. 86-87/100
On a vote, this beat the Meerlust pinot noir 7 to 4.

1998 Meerlust Pinot Noir Reserve, 13.5% en magnum (but just a single bottle's worth brought, decanted into an Unico bottle)
A rather stinky, goaty nose. A darker colour than the Hamilton Russell. Quite big on the palate, feeling much younger than the Hamilton Russell. 87/100

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Wine, Kanonkop, 14%
This has an attractive nose - very rounded and Bordeaux-like in style. Lovely, caressing palate, with sweet, but not over-sweet round, black fruit. A very pleasant, very drinkable, very impressive wine. 93/100

1995 Meerlust Rubicon, 13%
The nose is dominated for me by volatility, backed up with some muddy dirtiness. But forget the nose. This has a very classy feel on the palate: quite evolved, with some high tones, but also a real spicy, floral feel on the palate. 91/100
The 1995 Rubicon we had at the Rubicon Vertical last June was also very heavy on the VA - much more so than this bottle, to the point that it was virtually undrinkable unless you're a real fan of the most high-toned Musars. Is this a problem with the 1995 Rubicon, or just Keith's bottles of it?

2000 Eikendal Classique, Stellenbosch, 14%
Quite a meaty, horse-sweaty nose. But great, refined palate. Nicely elegant. Lovely wine. 89/100

2004 Columella, Sadie Family, WO Swartland, 14.5%
An attractive nose with sweet black fruit and nutmeggy overtones. Very direct and a bit hot on the attack. Nice pleasant, black fruit on the palate. Just feels a bit flat and ordinary. Possibly closed down?? 86/100

2003 Sequillo Syrah 63% Mourvedre 30% Grenache 7%, Sequillo Cellars, WO Swartland, 14%
The nose has warm, tending to hot, red fruit: simpler than the Columella, but possibly a bit more attractive.
Very attractive palate. Quite approachable. There's sweet, clean fruit on the palate, but ultimately it feels a touch simple. 87/100

2000 Lourens River Valley Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon, Morgenster, WO Stellenbosch, 13.7%
A very interesting nose: there is some sweet blackcurrant fruit evident, followed up by some spicy red fruit and violets. Nice open palate with some oakiness evident. Fairly direct and maybe a bit ordinary? Sorry. 84/100

2004 TMV Swartland Syrah, WO Swartland, 14%
A hugely fragrant nose, more like white wine than red: almost gewurztraminer-like, it's so floral and scented. I think most of the table agrees that this smells much more like gewurztraminer than anything related to syrah. Very strange.
Interesting palate. Again very fragrant, and it feels like there must be some viognier in it. Or maybe it's some syrah blended into viognier? What on earth do you do with this? Very difficult to judge or assess: it's just so different and completely in a style of its own. A red wine for girlies? someone suggests. If you ignore the fact that it's nothing like syrah, or even red wine, it's an unchallenging, pleasant drink. 87/100

2002 Raka Biography Shiraz, WO Western Cape, 15%
A very fresh, clean nose with some sweet mulberry and blueberry fruit. Quite sweet and floral on the palate, but it also has a decent freshness. Possibly a bit overshadowed by a number of preceding wines. Very pleasant wine, notwithstanding. 89/100

2003 Paul Cluver Riesling Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, WO Elgin, 14%
Ever-reliable. Deep golden colour. This has botrytis and apricots on the nose with a lovely fresh cleanness. Rich, sweet, but not overly so. Precise and enjoyable as ever. 90/100

1990 Overgaauw Cape Vintage Fortified Wine, 17.5%
A floral, fresh nose with some spirit rather evident. Chocolatey palate, but also feeling very winey. There's a touch of astringency. Not as good as i remember previous bottles being. 86/100

2005 Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve, WO Calitzdorp, 19%
A deep, dark purple with very firm legs. The nose has ripe black plums and berry fruit. Port-like, but with an edge. Rich and chocolatey palate. Jolly good, but far too young. 88/100

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Last updated: 25 September 2008